Disclaimers, or lack of them: See Part 1
My thanks as always to my beta reader, Barbara Davies. Her work can be found on her page, Barbara Davies.Cold
"All sorted," Jo announced, and threw the cordless phone onto the sofa. "I've found us a cute little hotel just outside Tintagel."
"Really?" The blonde looked up from the Christmas tree. She was placing on it some more decorations that they'd bought earlier that day. She rose and crossed the room, fitting herself neatly at the taller woman's side. "Thank you," she said, leaning in and giving Jo a peck on the cheek.
"I'm looking forward to it; never been to Cornwall."
"You're joking," chuckled Rocky, elbowing Jo gently in the ribs.
"Nope. I've seen the South of France, quite a bit of Spain, the States, Egypt, but I've never been to Cornwall."
Rocky shook her head. "Then I'm glad you'll be with me when we do see it. I can show you some beautiful places."
Jo wound a long arm around her friend. "I'm sure you can. We'll leave the day after Boxing Day."
"Wow, that soon." Rocky became quiet.
"What's wrong?" She gave the blonde a gentle squeeze.
"I'm scared of the memories." Rocky rested her head against Jo's shoulder, her eyes finding the flames of the fire.
"But they're good memories."
"Yes they are. But it's been so long, I'm scared I'll just remember the..."
"The river," Jo finished for her.
"Yeah, the river." She ran her hand along Jo's thigh, feeling the soft fabric of the sweatpants she was wearing. She herself was in a similar pair, with a white teeshirt matching Jo's.
Jo looked up at the clock; it was a little before midnight.
"It's nearly Christmas," whispered the taller woman, and reached down, bringing the blonde's face up towards hers. "Happy Christmas," she said, dipping her head and claiming soft lips.
After a long moment they separated, and Rocky gazed into the blue eyes above her. "I love you, Jo." She shifted around until she was straddling Jo's lap, and wound her arms around the dark head, holding on for all she was worth as the taller woman clasped her tightly.
Jo's lips found her neck, her hands disappearing beneath the teeshirt and smoothing their way up her sides and then to her back.
Rocky cupped Jo's face and forced her lips away from her neck so that she could claim them again, pushing her body hard into the one below her. She felt large hands caressing every inch of her back, and she leaned back into them. Rocky looked down into the face of the woman who had so recently come into her life.
Jo's eyes were half closed, her skin glowing in the light from the fire and the lights on the tree. And Rocky's heart clenched at the sight. She reached behind her, her hand closing on one of Jo's hands, which had come to rest on her hips. She drew the hand round to the front, looking at it intently. "Will you be gentle with me?" she whispered.
Jo's eyes closed, knowing exactly what it was that Rocky was asking, and knowing what Rocky was offering.
"Rocky, maybe we should wait, I shouldn't have..."
The blonde placed trembling fingers against soft moist lips. "Who's sitting on who here?"
Jo didn't trust her voice, so just nodded. Rocky was cast in the golden glow from the fire, which danced in her hair. Never losing eye contact with Jo, she slowly peeled the teeshirt off, then gathered the large hand again and placed in on her breast.
Jo couldn't understand why she could no longer see. Then she realised her eyes were filling with tears. She blinked them away and took in the sight in front of her. The most beautiful sight she had ever seen. She watched her own hand as if it belonged to someone else. It was being lovingly cradled in a smaller one, the thumb of that small hand brushing against her knuckles as it was pressed into soft flesh.
She looked back up into the blonde's face and saw a host of different emotions in the green eyes. She saw love, and hope, but she also saw fear, and for the briefest of moments tried to pull her hand away from the inviting softness it was nestled against. "I don't want to hurt you." She didn't realise why she said those words - hurting the gentle woman was the furthest thing from her mind.
"You won't." Rocky now had both of her hands holding Jo's against her flesh. "I want you," she whispered. She leaned forward, pressing her lips against Jo's, running her tongue across full lips.
Jo's free hand cupped the back of the blonde head, pulling Rocky deeper into the kiss. And Rocky, feeling Jo's other hand kneading her breast, released it and clutched onto the white teeshirt her friend still wore.
Jo was halfway up the stairs, the blonde's legs wrapped around her waist and her own arms holding Rocky close, before she realised they'd left the comfort of the lounge. She didn't stop to wonder from where she'd got the strength to carry them both up the stairs, and she didn't care. She staggered into the bedroom and deposited them both onto the bed, covering the smaller form with her own. She rose up enough to pull the sweatpants off the blonde, and then eased herself back down, pulled once more into position by Rocky. She felt small hands pulling at her teeshirt, and allowed it to be pulled over her head and thrown to some dark corner of the room.
Both women sighed at the sensation of flesh on flesh. But in the back of her mind caution still ruled for Jo. "You okay?" she asked between kisses.
"I'm great," came the breathy whisper.
Jo ducked her head and took a hardened nipple between her teeth, flicking it with her tongue. She felt small hands tangle themselves in her hair, but they weren't pulling her head away from the torture, rather confirming that the blonde was enjoying what Jo was doing to her.
Jo raised her head again to look into the face of her lover. Her lover. She'd thought about this moment even before she'd met the woman she now held naked in her arms. She let her hands roam across skin as smooth as silk. She felt the muscles beneath that skin tremble as her hand made its journey down across taut breasts, across a quivering abdomen, and then to the very edge of silky curls. There she stopped, watching the blonde's face very carefully for any signs of discomfort. Her hand detoured, coming to rest on Rocky's hip.
Rocky let her hand fall from Jo's head to her shoulder, then she tentatively cupped the taller woman's breast, rubbing her thumb across a hardened nub. She looked shyly into blue eyes. "Is that nice?" she asked.
Jo swallowed hard. "Very nice," she gasped.
"Tell me what to do," she whispered, watching her own hand as it caressed one breast to alertness before switching to the other.
"You're doing fine," Jo ground out between gritted teeth.
"I've never loved anyone like this before." Rocky closed her eyes, not wanting to remember those terrifying nights shared with a man who used her, but not being able to completely shut away the memory. "I never thought I could. I thought he'd taken that from me."
"Maybe we should stop," Jo said, however she didn't make any effort to move away from the girl.
Two small words, but to Jo as important as any she'd ever heard. She moved her hand from the gentle curve of Rocky's hip, and looked deep into green eyes as her fingers danced over slick heat. She watched in fascination as full lips parted at the first true contact between them, and hungrily possessed those lips already swollen from the passion that had gone before. She felt Rocky's arms holding onto her, pulling her down to crush the small body beneath her own.
Jo pulled back, needing to see the face of the woman she was making love to. Because that was what she was doing. For the first time in her life and in her bed, she was putting the pleasure of another person above her own. And she desperately wanted to see the face of her lover when the moment came. She felt short nails dig into her shoulders, and the hips of the woman beneath her buck as her hand drew out the blonde's pleasure.
Rocky's eyes were tightly shut, and Jo ducked her head, kissing a flushed cheek. "Open your eyes, sweetheart." She needed Rocky to know it was her touching her, that it was her loving her.
Green eyes fluttered open, looking slightly dazed.
"Say my name." Jo needed to hear it, needed to know that Rocky knew where she was and who she was with.
"Oh god, Jo," Rocky gasped.
Jo smiled down at her, venturing a little deeper, watching carefully the face below her.
Rocky's hips bucked again as Jo gently entered her, and with her free hand swept away sweat-slickened hair from the blonde's brow. Her lips followed her fingers across the damp face, kissing her eyelids, the tip of her nose, and then lips, which were whispering Jo's name over and over.
Then, with a gasp, Rocky's back arched and her hands clutched at the tall woman's shoulders.
Jo held still and savoured the delicious feeling as the blonde's body released its passion. She carefully withdrew her hand, letting it rest at the edge of blonde curls, her fingers idly teasing the soft skin there.
Again she pushed away damp blonde hair from the face of her lover, watching as green eyes refocused on her, and delighted to see a small smile on the lips she had kissed only moments before.
"Why can't I move now?" asked Rocky quietly in a voice full of wonder.
Jo chuckled and managed to pull the quilt from beneath the boneless woman and roll her into bed. Then she slipped out of her sweatpants and joined the sated woman.
She pulled Rocky over so that the blonde was on top of her, tucking her head beneath her chin.
"Comfy?" she asked.
"Oh yeah." Rocky listened for a moment to the strong heart beating beneath her ear. "Jo?"
"Love you, too." Jo held her tight.
Much later, Jo was awakened by Rocky as she shifted, moving away from her slightly and lying on her back.
Jo turned onto her side, watching the girl in the pale light coming from the landing. Rocky seemed to be at peace, one hand lying relaxed beside her face which was turned slightly towards her lover.
Jo couldn't resist tracing an eyebrow, partly hidden beneath pale hair. She shifted closer, watching the sleeping face. Her thigh shifted across the blonde's and her hand found the gentle curve of Rocky's hip. Dipping her head, she kissed the hollow of her throat moving down to take a hardening nipple into her mouth.
She smiled into the warm flesh when she heard the sharp intake of breath from the blonde, and ran her hand up from Rocky's hip to cup a firm breast, feeling the hardness of the nipple against her palm. She moved her thigh slightly, trying to settle it between the legs of her lover, but met with resistance.
She rose up onto her elbow, looking down at the blonde.
Rocky was lying still, her eyes half open, so Jo leaned across her to turn on the small bedside lamp.
"Hey," she whispered, gently trying to turn the blonde's head towards her.
Rocky was rigid however, her whole body tense, her muscles trembling with the effort of resisting Jo's touch.
"Rocky?" Jo's voice was tinged with the beginnings of panic and she reached for Rocky's hand, finding it clenched and unyielding. "Rocky, please." She knelt at her side now, putting both hands on the blonde's shoulders, shaking gently. "Rocky, it's me, it's Jo." She knew what was happening now. Rocky was back there, back with him. And she didn't know how to convince the girl that she was safe and hadn't returned to her nightmares. She should have known better, and admonished herself for touching Rocky when the blonde was vulnerable.
"Rocky, I'm sorry." Her voice cracked. Her hands were shaking as she caressed a flushed cheek, but then she withdrew her hand quickly, not knowing if her touch would be rejected. She looked into eyes that held no recognition. "Rocky, come back to me," she whispered.
She watched as the vacant green eyes closed, and held her breath as she waited for Rocky to return from wherever she had gone.
Suddenly the blonde's chest heaved, as she resurfaced, dragging in huge breaths as a drowning woman would do. She reached frantically for Jo, holding on when the long arms pulled her in, and grounding herself in the touch and feel of her new lover.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Jo repeated over and over, holding on tight, burying her face in damp blonde hair.
"It was him," Rocky choked out. "He came for me. He'll never leave me."
"No, it was me. It'll always be me. He'll never touch you again, I promise."
"I'll never be free of him," Rocky sobbed into Jo's chest, and the taller woman felt helpless, guilty that her own need had brought about the blonde's despair.
Jo held on tight, not knowing what to do except to give the woman in her arms the security of knowing that she was there, and would always be there.
It was Rocky who woke first, hearing the heavy rain hitting the window. She was still wrapped in the long arms of her sleeping lover.
She remembered waking earlier, feeling the hands and mouth on her, and she was back there, a scared child believing that, if she pretended to be asleep, the torment would stop and she'd be alone again. But then there was the voice, breaking through the hurt and the anger, the voice of her lover.
Jo had shown her how love could be, how sex could be. And she had repaid her by freezing. In those first panic-filled moments as she awoke, she couldn't tell it was her lover's hands, she just knew someone was touching her, caressing her. Just as he had. He would come to her room in the dark hours, lift the quilt and touch her body. And she would let him. She would close her eyes very tightly, and hope he would maybe grow tired of an unresponsive body and leave her alone.
He never did.
And now, when she wanted to give her body to the woman she was growing to love, he had come to her. He had intervened as if he had been there in the bed with them. The memory of him still haunted her, and she wondered if it would ever leave her. And would Jo grow tired of the constant battle with him? Would she want to take him on, for that is what she would have to do.
Rocky looked across at the woman holding her tight, even in sleep, their faces only inches apart. There were faint worry lines across the forehead beneath the silky black hair, and she frowned, knowing she was the source. Jo hadn't told her much of her life before she had come into it, but she knew that her lover had led a mostly carefree existence, which even Jo was beginning to find unfulfilling. And now suddenly Jo had someone to look after, to provide for. Someone who couldn't give her body without a struggle.
Surely Jo wouldn't want to persevere with such a difficult relationship.
Tears sprang from green eyes, and Rocky put a hand over her mouth, not wanting to wake Jo with her sobs.
She looked at Jo, pushing dark hair away from the sleeping face.
Blue eyes fluttered open, widening when they took in the moist green eyes staring at her intently.
"You okay?" she asked huskily. She didn't move, just tightened her hold slightly.
Rocky nodded, never breaking eye contact for a moment. "I'm sorry."
"It was really stupid." She tucked her head below Jo's chin, not wanting to see the annoyance in her friend's face.
"If anyone was stupid it was me. You told me about what happened. I shouldn't have touched you when you were asleep." She kissed the top of the blonde head. "You gave me so much tonight, more than I imagined. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant to me."
"But..." Rocky paused, unable to voice her fears.
"But what?" Jo swallowed hard, worried that she had gone too quickly, had lost Rocky's trust.
Rocky listened to the rapid heartbeat beneath her ear. "Tell me about your life before we met."
Jo went very still, closed her eyes, and held on tight to her lover. "Why?"
"I want to know."
Again Jo swallowed hard. "It's not pretty."
"I think I know that."
"I didn't care much for other people's feelings. I took what I wanted, and threw them away.... People like Trixie.... She has a reason to hate me.... I used her.... Like I used many others." She paused for a moment, her hand wandering idly across the smooth back of the woman she held close to her. "But you know what?" She felt the blonde head move against her chest. "I enjoyed it.... I knew they wanted me, I knew I could use them and they'd still come back for more.... So I did."
Jo rested her cheek against blonde hair. "The night before I saw your picture in the gallery, I picked up a little blonde.... Brought her back here and fucked her brains out.... She told me she just wanted sex.... I was happy to oblige... I never even knew her name."
"You're so much more than that, Jo." Rocky's voice was small.
"I wasn't then. It was all I was good for." She kissed the blonde head. "You give me a purpose."
"And if I'm going to wake up screaming every time you touch me?"
"Then I'll just go on until you recognise it's me. We can't let him win."
"Sometimes I think he already has, and I worry you'll lose patience with me."
"Never. Have a little faith, huh?"
Rocky sighed deeply. "I worry that I'm not going to be enough for you. Those women wanted you because...." She fought her own embarrassment, never having spoken of such matters before. "They wanted you because you're good. And I think they maybe made you feel good too."
Jo thought about that for a moment. "Yes, they made me feel good. But just being with you makes me feel wonderful. I didn't think I could be with another person just because I enjoyed their company. But with you that's exactly how I feel. Don't get me wrong, you excite me, and I love the feel of your body beneath my hands. But sex will never be the most important part of our relationship." She reached down, tipping the blonde's head up with a gentle finger, smiling down into moist green eyes. "We can learn all about love together; I'm just as new to that as you are to... other things."
"So you'll show me how..."
"I'm sure I don't need to show you how to make love." She kissed the tip of Rocky's nose. "But I'm willing to let you practice as much as you like."
Rocky let out a half sob, half chuckle. "You're sacrificing yourself for me?"
Jo nodded, not wanting to betray herself by having her voice break on the words.
"Thank you," Rocky whispered, brushing away hot tears, which were running from blue eyes across Jo's face.
After a few moments, they both fell asleep, relaxed in each other's arms, free of nightmares and haunting shadows.
"Good morning," said Jo, placing the mug of tea on the bedside cabinet and sitting on the edge of the bed next to a dishevelled blonde. She leaned across the sleepy woman, and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips. "It's Christmas."
Rocky raised her head slightly looking at the clock on the radio alarm. "It's halfway through Christmas. Why didn't you wake me?" She sat up, pulling the quilt up to cover her nakedness.
"I thought you needed it. You didn't move when I got up, and you were using me as some sort of mattress this morning."
"Sorry." Rocky leaned across and grabbed the mug, sighing as the warm liquid soothed her throat. "Oh, that's bliss."
Jo patted a quilt-covered knee. "Anyway, hurry up, take a shower and get dressed. I want you to see something."
Rocky put the mug down with an audible thump. "Jo, you promised me, no gifts."
"I don't think you'll mind this one."
Rocky threw the quilt back, and stomped out of the bedroom. Jo watched her go, grinning to herself as Rocky treated her to a vision of angry nudity. "Cute dimples," she called after her.
Half an hour later, Rocky descended the stairs, still towelling her hair. She flopped down on the sofa and looked around the room for whatever it was Jo wanted her to see.
"Well?" she called to her friend who she assumed was in the kitchen.
"In here," Jo called.
Putting the towel around her shoulders, she reluctantly made her way to the kitchen. The first thing she saw was the food. The small table was groaning under the weight of the Christmas feast. Then a movement caught her eye, and she looked towards the sink and burst into tears.
Edna was just turning towards her, drying her hands with a small hand towel.
"Now is that any way to greet me?" asked the old woman, causing the teary-eyed woman to launch herself into her arms. She looked over Rocky's shoulder at the tall woman, giving her a little wink of the eye.
Edna managed to pry the blonde away from herself, holding her at arm's length. "Look at you now."
"It's so good to see you, Edna," Rocky snivelled.
"And you too, dear." She guided Rocky towards the table. "Let's not let this get cold. Young Sandor has outdone himself." She smiled at Jo, whose gaze was riveted on the delighted features of her lover. "What a nice young man."
Jo was slicing the turkey, placing slices on each of their plates. "He is," she agreed. "This is a gift to us both from Mother."
Rocky merely nodded, still sniffling slightly and obviously unable to take everything in.
Jo paused in her serving to remove the damp towel from the blonde's shoulders. "Don't want your shoulder seizing up."
"Thanks," said Rocky, her voice a husky whisper. "How long will you stay?" she asked Edna, who was digging in to her Christmas dinner with great gusto.
"Jo has asked me to stay a while, and I have agreed," she managed between mouthfuls.
Rocky looked up at her lover, who was just sitting after filling her plate. "When did you do all this?"
"You sleep a lot."
"Not that much."
Jo shrugged. "A few mornings ago, I slipped out of bed, went down to Whitechapel, and managed to find Edna." She looked across at the old woman. "She didn't take much convincing."
"I can't believe you did all that when I was asleep." Rocky was shaking her head, pouring gravy in huge quantities across every part of her meal.
Jo shrugged. "Are you happy?" she asked, popping a sprout in her mouth and grimacing at the taste.
Rocky looked from her friend to her lover. "Stupid question," she said. "I'm spending Christmas with the two people I love the most. How could I not be happy?"
Edna looked across at the blonde. She never thought she'd hear Rocky speak of love. But she could see the evidence of it on the girl's face, and she decided it suited her.
Jo poured wine into each of the three glasses. "Let's make a toast," she said.
Rocky stood quickly, picking up her glass. "I want to," she said quietly.
"To Jo," she said, raising her glass. "The woman who saved me. The woman I love. I owe you my life, and I will repay you every moment of every day."
"To Jo," Edna raised her glass, clinking hers against Rocky's and waiting for a speechless Jo to join in.
"Every moment of every day," Rocky repeated, and sat again, reaching across the table for her lover's hand.
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